Have you visited Wokingham town centre in the last week? If you have, you’ll have seen the temporary barriers designed to keep pedestrians safe and give them enough room to practice safe social distancing.
Central Government has directed highway authorities to reallocate roadway space from cars to pedestrians, to support the re-opening of town centres and other shopping areas.
Last weekend, Wokingham Borough Council installed temporary barriers in Wokingham town centre that take the road widths on Peach, Rose and Broad Streets down to one lane and make the footways wider to give shoppers enough room to safely return to town.
The council will shortly be implementing similar barriers in Rectory Road and Wiltshire Road and reducing the speed limit around the town centre to 20mph.
The council’s highways team has been closely monitoring both car and pedestrian use to ensure the barriers are in the right places and doing what they are intended to do, and tweaking where necessary.
The 20mph speed limit will ensure vehicles are going slow enough to keep pedestrians safe.
Executive member for regeneration Charlotte Haitham Taylor said, “We know it doesn’t look pretty and might cause traffic to move a bit more slowly than usual, but it allows us to keep our pedestrians safe by giving them wider footways.
“Now more than ever it’s vital that we all support our local shops, to help them survive and thrive. Let’s all ‘stay safe, shop local, shop Wokingham Borough’.”
“We have tried to keep as much of the on-street parking as possible and have not removed any residential permit parking,” said executive member for highways and transport Pauline Jorgensen.
“There are a couple of locations where we have had to temporarily remove some parking, in particular the disabled bays on Rose Street, however there are disabled spaces available in the carpark next to the church which can be used instead. We’ve also had to remove spaces on Peach Street near the junction with Easthampstead Road, as we can’t allow vehicles to reverse into a single lane of traffic. The Easthampstead Road car park alternative is just a few minutes’ walk away and businesses affected by the change all have rear access for deliveries and loading/unloading."
“We’ve been told by the Government to do this, and we had to do it quickly, so we knew we might not get it right the first time, this is the reason we used temporary bollards. Barriers were in place last Monday when the shops were able to re-open, and we’ve been monitoring and tweaking the layout since then. We are working with the town council, the business association and individual businesses to make sure we are aware of all of the issues and we will do what we can to meet everyone’s needs. At the end of the day, though, our key priority is pedestrian and vehicular safety.”
The Wokingham Business Association, said: “It’s been great to see the council supporting our local businesses and working to ensure the safety of pedestrians coming into and moving around the town. It’s been a hard couple of months for retail shops, and we are happy to be working with the borough and town councils to launch the re-opening of Wokingham town.”
An additional change to the parking on Rose Street, which the council was working on prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, is to allow the 2hour only parking bays to be 2hour and resident parking bays.